BRICK – The Brick Township Police Department celebrated its 50th anniversary at this year’s National Night Out, commemorating how they’ve serviced the community throughout the years.
Since its inception, the men and women of the Brick Township Police Department have been serving and protecting its residents and has grown with a number of units and specialized equipment to help them combat crime as well as keep the community safe.
When reflecting on the department’s history, Brick Police Chief James Riccio told Jersey Shore Online that he’s proud of what the department has grown into today.
“The department has grown substantially. A couple of things we’ve done that we’re proud of is getting accredited. We’ve been an accredited department since 2012 and we’ve maintained that thought the years,” Riccio said.
Accreditation is a challenging process to prove that a police department is following the best practices established statewide.
Riccio listed more achievements over the years: “All of our specialty units that we’ve added and grown into. Everything, with an emphasis on community policing, we’ve grown those units: our traffic unit, our dive team, our street crimes unit, our marine unit. All these different things that we’ve added to help serve the community better, because we are a large town and we’re a large department. Over the years we’ve seen what services we’ve needed to provide and we’ve built these specific units to be able to provide.”
At this year’s National Night Out, Chief Riccio told the story of the department’s origin as well as its triumphs and hardships over the past 50 years.
On July 17, 1972 the department was formed by hiring its first six officers: Joseph Perna, Robert Forrester, Robert Santaniello, Anthony Sierchio, Joseph DeAngelo and Thomas D’Ambola. One month later, six more officers were hired: Ronald Dougard, Brian Henfey, Robert Ryan, Michael Mullarkey, Robert Leduc and Philip Gonzalez.
These officers were led by Public Safety Director H. Walter Dodwell and worked out of a rented property located on Brick Boulevard until 1975 when the growing department moved to its current location in the Brick Township Municipal Building.
Throughout the years the department continued to grow and by 1978 it numbered 55 officers.
Sadly, later that same year the department suffered its first line of duty death, Officer Richard Harper.
In 1980, the Director was replaced by Acting Chief Joseph DeAngelo who held the position until 1981 when Joseph Anthony was named the Director of Public Safety.
The department added a tactical team in 1982 which consisted of 12 men and was led by Lt. Robert Ryan. The K-9 unit was formed in 1988 and was led by Sgt. Philip Gonzalez and K-9 Sparky, with Patrol Officer Heidi Bergmann and K-9 Murphy as its first officers.
Lt. Ronald J. Dougard was promoted to the rank of Chief of Police in 1990 and was the first Chief of Police in the history of the department.
By 1997, the department had grown to 111 sworn officers. In the early 2000s, several units were created such as the marine unit, motorcycle unit and a full-time EMS unit.
In 2008, Chief Dougard retired after 36 years with the department and was replaced by Chief Nils R. Bergquist.
For the first time, the department received accreditation status in 2012 by the New Jersey Chiefs of Police Association and has been renewed each assessment period since.
In 2015, James Riccio was named the Department’s third Chief of Police, a position he continues to hold.
Over the years, more units have been added to the department such as detectives, street crimes unit, traffic safety, community policing, rescue divers, bicycle unit and more.
Today, the department consists of over 240 employees which includes 146 sworn officers and 120 unsworn and civilian employees who work together to serve the residents of Brick.
In celebration of the department’s 50th anniversary Mayor John G. Ducey presented a proclamation naming the week of August 7 through August 13, 2022, to be “Brick Township Police Department Week.”